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BizReport : Social Marketing : May 10, 2010

Consumers don't put much trust in socnets

Consumers don't trust social networks, forums and blogs as much as they do traditional media such as radio, newspapers and television, according to a new study by Vision Critical, but family still comes first.

by Helen Leggatt

The study, which surveyed 4,000 adults spread equally across the U.K., U.S. and Canada, found that family and friends still out-do social networks in terms of trustworthiness and privacy.

Of all respondents, 80% found family to be either "completely trustworthy" or "very trustworthy" sources of information and 70% also trusted their friends. Radio (45%), online news (39%), television (38%), printed newspapers (33%) and printed magazines (24%) all ranked higher in trustworthiness than social networks (12%). Only online forums/blogs/chat came in under social networks with 8%.

However, levels of trust in a product or brand were increased when discussed by friends and family on social networks, found the survey.

"What we are learning in our ongoing research is that consumer trust in social media is highly nuanced and for advertisers who see this medium as an emerging brand-building channel, brands need to be contextually linked within consumers' most trusted peer or professional networks," said Matt Kleinschmit, Vision Critical's Senior Vice President of Media. "Simply being visible is not enough."

Despite fears of privacy and trust concerns, social media users aren't averse to brands advertising in that space. Around half of the U.S. respondents (48%) felt online social networks were a good place for brands to advertise as did 39% of British and 43% of Canadian respondents.

In fact, exposure to advertising on a social network had directly led to purchases for some respondents - 18% of Americans, 14% of British and 13% of Canadians.

"This research suggests that while consumers may have very real concerns about the trustworthiness of online social networks, this emerging medium can still be a fertile ground for marketers and advertisers in terms of brand building, product marketing and advertising," said Kleinschmit.

"The key for advertisers is to successfully navigate the 'public' and 'private' characteristics of social networks, and harness those elements that will facilitate organic brand advocacy."

Tags: Advertising, Marketing, Marketing and Advertising, Media, Radio, Social network, Television, Vision Critical

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  • I've been working with a company since its inception (over two years), that facilitates advice exchange within trusted communities. So, maybe you can have your cake and eat it too? The ease of social networks and the trust of friends and family.

    Giles, Senior Editor, TrustWorks



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